While tenants are always on a mission to seek affordable housing, the concerns of a landlord where the housing market is concerned are many. There's the matter of balancing eviction laws, landlord-tenant laws, etc.

One of the elements that come with these concerns is that of rent restrictions. Learning how rent hikes work in a state is fundamental to staying on the right side of the line, and that's what the information below aims to cover.

Washington Rent Increase

Washington law on rent increases, which is covered in the rent regulation statute WA Rev Code § 36.01.130, binds landlords on the premise of the established rental agreement. So, if the lease renewal is the time the agreement states, for example, then that is when the increase can happen.

This is why it's imperative to ensure that the written lease contains all the clauses required to allow for whatever increases may be fair in the long run.

Of course, since there is no rent control outside the lease, if both parties agree to a change in the terms, this is also acceptable.

Under normal circumstances, a rent increase for a month-to-month tenancy is perfectly fine so long as fair notice is provided.

Illegal Cases

Even with the lack of defined rent control, there is still the matter of the Federal Fair Housing Act. The specific element of concern here is that of discrimination, which is outlawed. Therefore, while a rent increase is fine under general circumstances, it should never be driven by race, nation, origin, age, familial status, religion, or the disability status of the tenant.

Retaliation is also forbidden. A tenant does have the legal right to lodge complaints with the appropriate bodies where housing code violations, health, or safety are concerned, and there should be no circumstance under which a landlord chooses to increase the rent because of such action being taken.

Proper Notice

There's always the concern of how much landlords need to provide notice before taking certain actions across different states. As far as the decision to increase rent goes, a Washington landlord must provide at least 60 days of notice before making such a change.

The only exception is the city of Seattle, in which the notice is required to be 60 days if the increase is meant to be 10% or more. Subsidized tenancies are exempt from this rule, instead requiring a 30-day notice as stated in Seattle Code 7.24.030.

Frequency, Limits, and Fees

Since there is no rent control and lease agreements don't typically address this, a landlord in Washington can increase rent however many times is desired.

Similarly, there are no rent increase laws to dictate the maximum amount that the figure can be increased by in the state.

As far as fees go, there is a late fee limit, which is either $20 or 20% of the monthly rent, whichever is greater and is reasonable. However, the amount applied must be stated in the lease agreement.

Finally, there's the matter of bounced checks when there are insufficient funds to cover the amount required for the property. In such cases, a Washington landlord may elect to charge 12% of the monthly rent and collect a maximum of $40 as a fee. This will apply provided that the rent remains unpaid for 15 days.

Bottom Line

Regardless of the presence or absence of a housing shortage or whatever other housing crisis may be at play, a landlord must balance the needs of the tenant with the requirements of self, and this can get particularly difficult in a situation where there are often laws that enforce ordinances in different areas that must all be accounted for.

As far as rent control goes, there is none in Washington but the state does use WA Rev Code § 36.01.130 to preempt it. The important takeaways are the required periods of written notice for increases, the amount that may be charged for late fees and bounced checks, as well as the prohibitions based on discrimination.

Finally, if you want a reliable resource for all the forms you may need as a landlord, Doorloop provides them here!


Do Rent Increase Laws Allow Landlords to Effect Raises Based on Past Occurrences?

The answer depends on the circumstance. If the occurrence is retaliatory, then it would be forbidden.

If a Landlord Raises the Rent, What Is the Wait Period Before It Can Be Increased Again?

No waiting period will apply in Washington since there is no statute governing the frequency with which a landlord is allowed to raise the rent in the state.

Which Cities in Washington Currently Have Rent Control in Place?

No cities in Washington have rent control laws in place.

Is a Late Fee Allowed in Washington?

Yes. This can be the greater of $20 or 20% of the monthly rent, once the amount is reasonable.

Can a Written Notice Be Sent via an E-mail?

Certainly! The notice only needs to be written. There is no specific statement surrounding the medium.

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David is the co-founder & CMO of DoorLoop, a best-selling author, legal CLE speaker, and real estate investor. When he's not hanging with his three children, he's writing articles here!